Filet-O-Fish is one of our best-loved menu items, and the McDonald’s Fisheries Sustainability Standard guides all our global purchases of wild-caught fish to ensure that McDonald’s only sources from sustainable fisheries.

Why it matters

We agree with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) that healthy oceans are essential for thriving marine ecosystems, livelihoods and economies. It’s why we’ve made a commitment to source 100% of our wild-caught fish from verified sustainable sources by 2020.

Sustainably managed fisheries are those that maintain healthy fish stocks, minimize the impact of fishing on ecosystems and manage the seas, oceans and fisheries responsibly. We fully support global efforts to restore depleted fish stocks, improve fishery management and conserve marine environments.

On this page:

Our approach | Our actions | Our goals and progress

Our approach

The McDonald’s Fisheries Sustainability Standard defines our approach for global purchases of wild-caught fish. We began the journey back in 2001, working with Conservation International and later, The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, along with our suppliers, to set up a rating program for fisheries based on management quality, fish stock status and marine environment efforts. The program, still in use today, establishes improvement plans for fisheries that score poorly and, if progress is delayed, we will temporarily move our sourcing away from that fishery but continue working with the different stakeholders on improvements, with the aim of returning to that fishery once our standard is met.

Since the early 2000s, we’ve continued to support the improvement of the fisheries we source from and continue to work with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, who review each of our the fisheries in our supply chain against our standard on an annual basis.  Additionally the majority of the fish that we serve are also sourced from MSC certified fisheries.

Our fish sustainability work supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically:

As well as these, we’ve mapped our Scale for Good initiatives to all 17 goals.

“The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership has been proud to work with McDonald’s for many years and has seen huge improvements in the quality of fisheries management as a result of our joint efforts. We commend the company’s visionary approach to supporting the improvement of fisheries rather than just switching to other sources.”

Jim Cannon, Chief Executive Officer, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

Our actions

The journey behind a Filet-O-Fish

Take a glimpse behind the scenes at Espersen, McDonald’s fish supplier in Denmark, which supplies restaurants in 42 countries. Espersen has been processing cod and haddock for McDonald’s for more than 40 years!



Certifying our restaurants

All McDonald’s restaurants in Europe, Brazil, Canada and the United States are certified against the MSC Chain of Custody traceability standard. This means that every fishery supplying our distribution centers and restaurants must have a valid certificate confirming that fish comes from MSC-certified sustainable fisheries.

“McDonald’s was the first global restaurant chain to put the MSC label on its menus in Europe. Over time, they have built on those strong foundations with MSC certification for McDonald’s restaurants in America, Canada and Brazil, making McDonald’s a world leader in sustainable seafood sourcing. Long-term partnerships like this underpin the MSC program. They help to incentivize fisheries around the world to seek MSC certification, delivering improvements where needed to support healthy oceans for generations to come.”

Rupert Howes, CEO, Marine Stewardship Council

Protecting fragile marine environments

As part of an industry-led voluntary agreement brokered by Greenpeace to protect fragile arctic marine habitats, we announced we would no longer source fish caught in vulnerable or not yet explored areas of the Barents and Norwegian seas in 2016. This was a proactive response to concerns that, due to climate change-related ice melt, fishing boats may be able to operate in previously un-fished areas around the sensitive Svalbard Archipelago.

We will continue to keep this policy in place until there is robust, independent research demonstrating that fishing in the area will not cause serious harm to the marine environment.


Teaching the next generation

To underscore our commitment to sustainably managed fisheries and make the topic accessible for children, McDonald’s U.S. created “Reel It In!” – a card game about the importance of sustainable fishing that all generations of Filet-O-Fish fans can understand. Click here to find out more and download it to play.


Our goals and progress


By 2020, all the wild-caught fish purchased for use in McDonald’s restaurants will be from verified sustainable sources.



Globally, all of the whitefish for McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish is sourced from sustainably managed wild-caught fisheries, assessed and verified annually against the McDonald’s Fisheries Sustainability Standard by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. In addition, McDonald’s displays the MSC certification logo in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and many of our European markets1.


1The full list of countries where McDonald’s displays the MSC certification logo: U.S., France, U.K., Canada, Russia, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden, Morocco, Norway, Hungary, Denmark, Romania, Portugal, Ireland, Czech Republic, Belarus, Croatia,  Serbia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Greece, Malta, Brazil


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